Education is the most effective tool if the goal is to vanquish ideologies like Maoism for good.
The State is doing its job. Additionally, Sangh Parivar is also pitching in.
The most recent attack by Maoist terrorists in Sukma district in the Bastar region of Chhattisgarh that left 25 CRPF men dead shook the country and turned people’s attention towards this region again. Indian state is fighting the Maoists with the guns for decades. It is also focusing on winning the hearts of adivasis who Maoists claim to represent. With focusing on delivering services like education, healthcare and good infrastructure to people, Indian state is trying to wean the local populace away from the murderous ideology of Maoists. But ideologies like Maoism are hard to expunge and will require decades of persistent efforts.
Education is the most effective tool if the goal is to vanquish these ideologies for good. The State is doing its job. Additionally, Sangh Parivar is also pitching in to provide holistic education in the adivasi areas where the writ of Maoists used to run.
Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram (VKA), the main service arm of Sangh Parivar in adivasi areas in Chhattisgarh, runs one-teacher non-formal Ekal Vidyalayas in 810 villages in Bastar. They educate children on health and hygiene, impart valuable lessons on society, community, India’s heritage and culture, religion, good agricultural practices including organic farming and a lot more after regular school hours. “We also teach about respecting women and elders, yoga and pranayam, general knowledge, and tell stories from the Ramayana and Mahabharata to kids aged between 6 and 14. Swami Vivekananda is our inspiration,” said Sanjeev Rungta, the general secretary in charge of Ekal activities in Chhattisgarh.
Jhane Bhoier teaches three groups of children at the Ekal Vidyalaya at Charbhata village, about 5 kilometres from Bahegaon on NH 30 that connects Jagdalpur to Bhairamgarh. “The children go to regular school and then from 5 pm to 8 pm, come to the Ekal Vidyalaya. I also teach women once a week on health, hygienic cooking and about our rituals and customs,” she says. Charbhata’s sarpanch Pancham Bhoier says that the Ekal Vidyalaya has brought about a marked change in youngsters in the five years since it was established in the village. “Our children have become more knowledgeable, disciplined, obedient and smart after going to Ekal Vidyalaya,” he says.
Apart from Ekal Vidyalayas, there are also more than 250 Saraswati Shishu Mandirs run by the RSS in Bastar. “We also run Vanvasi Kalyan Ashrams and are doing a lot of work to wean adivasis away from the death grip of Maoists. We have suffered a lot too; 25 of our workers have been killed by Maoists over the last five years and we have had to close down 10 Saraswati Shishu Mandirs. We run Sanskar Kendras from those schools now,” says Hemant Shukla, the RSS in-charge of Bastar. The Ramakrishna Mission and some other organisations are also running schools for adivasi children in the remote areas.